Tribe's Apology Shows Performers are Humans Too
Fans excited for A Tribe Called Quest at Outside Lands this past weekend in San Francisco were disappointed not once, but twice. The group cancelled their Friday set, rescheduled it to Saturday, then cancelled that Saturday set too. Now, the group has issued an apology for missing the weekend in an open letter to fans via the Los Angeles Times.
In 2016, one of the group's founding backbones Malik Taylor, aka Phife Dawg (who lived in the Bay Area at the end of his life), unexpectedly passed away from diabetes-related complications. Tribe's letter explains that the confluence of processing this loss, while touring for the first time in 20 years without him, is a constant struggle. Thursday night's show at Colorado's Red Rocks Ampitheatre without Phife, just a day ahead of their scheduled Outside Lands headlining set, was particularly tough for the group's remaining members. In the letter, the group thanked the audience for the love while reflecting that, "although the house was filled with love and we felt it all, we also felt the huge void of Phife's absence. We walked off that stage deep in grief."
Read the group's statement in full below.
We want to sincerely apologize to you for our absence at the Outside Lands Music Festival. Your love, dedication and support of our music is important to us. Our performance at the festival has been months in the making and in those months we have been fraught with an emotional and eager excitement to touch the stage in the place where Phife Dawg made his home.
Upon the eve of playing for you, we performed not to a mixed crowd of festival patrons but to a filled house of solely Questers. It was humbling. The beautiful Red Rock amphitheater was filled with voices helping us get through a difficult performance without our brother Phife. You would think that with every performance we heal a little more and the sadness is easier to handle. Sometimes that is the case and sometimes the grief and loss is compounded. Although the house was filled with love and we felt it all, we also felt the huge void of Phife's absence. We walked off that stage deep in grief.
In show business there is a notion that the "show must go on" no matter what. Sometimes though, when you have lost someone close, you are riddled with the notion that there is no going on. That Friday morning upon traveling to San Francisco, a wave of grief was still on us and in that moment we could not see the “on” to go on to. Eventually though in face of loss you find that glimmer of light to bring you to your center and you find the "on."
We missed Friday but we found our "on" the following day. We wanted to play for you and we wanted to honor Phife's wife in their hometown. Unfortunately, everything did not come together before the closing curfew. For that, we are deeply sorry. We look to correct this and regain your confidence.
Actually, let us restate that — we will correct this and regain your confidence.
A special shout out goes out to Another Planet Entertainment, the promoter/organizer of Outside Lands.
They put together an incredible event that was enjoyed by many despite the fact that we were unable to add to that joy. We want to express our appreciation for their efforts and encourage our fans to continue to support them. And to those who traveled far and wide, we sincerely apologize and are looking for ways to make this up to you. We are fully aware that without you (the fans), we would not be where we are today. We appreciate you having our back during this challenging period.
We are not making excuses for our absence. We just wanted you to know that we are still grieving and yet we want to honor each and every one of you for 28 years of music love. Thank you for the support.
It's important to keep in mind that, although you may have spent hundreds on festival tickets, the mental health of performers is not to be overlooked. As one fan insightfully noted on Facebook:
"Wow, I commend ATCQ and this statement makes me emotional. At the end of the day, our beloved performers are still humans. Except that we're allowed 'sick days,' a privilege not always afforded to highly-paid entertainers with zero backlash. Prioritizing one's own mental health should absolutely come before anything else. If they were talking about a physical sickness (which grief can sometimes feel like) there would be no question. I think they, along with other artists/musicians who have recently been discussing mental health more openly, are setting a fine example for the rest of us – that it's okay not to be okay and there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting your health/energy/well-being over anyone else. Bravo."
What do you think about Tribe's statement?